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Ding Mao, Arrested Because of “Jasmine Revolution,” is Released but Put Under House Arrest for Six Months

Friday, December 2, 2011

Radio Free Asia | 2011-12-02

Ding Mao, a former student leader of the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy movement, was released Friday morning after being detained by Mianyang police in Sichuan province for more than nine months.  Later the same day, he told Radio Free Asia that the authorities do not have a final resolution to his case and he is under house arrest for six months while they “continue to investigate.”  To date, most of those who were detained in February because of the “Jasmine Revolution” have been released.

Photo: Ding Mao with his wife and son after his release on Friday. (Courtesy of Chinese Human Rights Defenders)

Ding Mao, a native of Mianyang, Sichuan province and a leader of the 1989 democracy protests, was released Friday from the Mianyang Detention Center after nine months in custody. He was detained on Feb. 29 for forwarding information about the Chinese Jasmine Revolution.  His wife Feng Xia, who greeted him outside the detention center, told Radio Free Asia on Friday that even though her husband had been released, he was still not free. “I was waiting for him at the gate of the detention center at 11 a.m. I saw that his eyes were bloodshot due to lack of sleep,” she said.

Reporter: Did he written anything [while in detention]? Was he allowed to bring anything out with him?
Feng Xia: No. He cannot bring anything out with him right now.
Reporter: How long was he held?
Feng Xia: 286 days in total. Now he’s under house arrest.
In February, Chinese netizens started spreading information about the “Jasmine Revolution,” calling on the public to stroll in the downtown plazas of their cities every Sunday as a way to fight for freedom, democracy and social justice. Highly alarmed, Chinese authorities frantically searched for and arrested those who had spread the message.  Police seized 43-year-old Ding Mao and held him for “inciting subversion of state power”.
Just two hours after his release, Ding Mao spoke to our reporter and said, “[The charge] was ‘inciting subversion of state power.’  Actually [what I did] was forward Twitter messages about the Jasmine Revolution online.”
Reporter: Did he [the police] ask you where the messages came from?
Ding Mao: Of course, but how was I supposed to know?  There’s no way I could have known.”
Reporter: And now they have released you.  How did they explain that?
Ding Mao: [They] said further investigation was needed, so they changed the coercive measure to six months of house arrest.  There’s no resolution [yet].  Because they need to continue investigating, so they changed the coercive measure.
According to Wikipedia, a Chinese student studying in the United States and using the name “Hua Ge” was one of those who started the Chinese Jasmine Revolution.   His identity was revealed after he gave interviews to the foreign media, and the Chinese Embassy in the United States has put him on its “black list” and barred him from returning to China.  “Hua Ge” reportedly is originally from China’s Hubei province and is a student of Latin and ancient Roman language at Columbia University.
According to the Associated Press, a group of 20 Chinese, most of them young people, anonymously organized the Chinese Jasmine Movement through the Internet. Eight of them are in China while the other 12 live in six different foreign countries.
The Associated Press reported that among the well-known human rights activists who were arrested on Feb. 19 were Tang Jitian, Teng Biao, Ran Yunfei, Li Tiantian, Liu Guohui, Ding Mao, Zhu Yufu, Liang Shuangyuan, Huang Yanming, Lu Yongxiang, Xiao Yong, Zhang Jianping, Shi Yulin, She Wanbao, and Li Yu.
Mao told us that the police kept pressing him for the source of the messages, but he himself knew nothing.  During the past nine months, he was held with other suspects and was not tortured.  He said, “[I was held] with criminal offenders and others, usually 20 of them, sometimes 23. At first, [interrogations were] every day or every other day.”
Ding Mao had a lot of thoughts about his arrest, but didn’t know where to start talking about them.  He adamantly refused to admit that he was guilty as charged, and said this of what happened when he was arrested: “Of course, I have a lot of personal thoughts. They handled it appropriately – I have no complaints.”
Reporter: Did you admit to the charge against you?
Ding Mao: No. I was arrested on February 19 in Chengdu and was detained for 24 hours without any proper procedures.  When the detention notice was issued, I had already been taken to the Mianyang East District police station and held there for 24 hours.  The detention notice was signed the evening of February 20.
Ding Mao, reportedly the chairman of the Lanzhou Student Autonomous Federation during the 1989 protests, was imprisoned for one year.  In April 1992, just before he was to have graduated from the philosophy department of Lanzhou University, he was arrested and sentenced to seven years for organizing the China Social Democratic Party.  Since his release in 1999, he has dedicated himself to democracy and human rights activities until his February arrest.
Before releasing him, the local prosecutors changed Ding Mao’s “criminal detention” to “house arrest,” the reason given was “ongoing investigation.”  He said that he now has no job, and must report to the local police every week. Ding Mao said, “I don’t know what to do about work, so I might as well rest for a period of time.  We live in Chaoyang town in Chengdu, but my household registration is in Mianyang city and hasn’t been transferred to Chengdu.  So that means I have to report weekly to the local police in Mianyang, basically to say that things are OK and where I am.”
Huang Qi, founder of Human Rights Campaign in China (HRCC), has been closely watching Ding Mao’s case and said, “The authorities’ [decision] to change the coercive measure against Mr. Ding Mao can be viewed as another positive step following the release of dissidents like Ai Weiwei, Ran Yunfei, Zuo Xiaohuan, and Tang Cailong, and we welcome this move.  At the same time, however, we cannot forget those who are still in jail for pursuing freedom, democracy and social justice.  We hope the Chinese government can go along with the dramatic changes in the international climate and the swift growth of the Chinese human rights movement and abandon its usual practice of cracking down on human rights activists, dissenters, and religious believers, and release as soon as possible all prisoners detained for their political and religious beliefs.”

This report is by Radio Free Asia reporter Qiao Long.

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